Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principle No. 7: Accountability

This post was also written by Adam Snukal.

Well, here it is. A summary of the last of the seven principles contained in the Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principles released by the Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, in concert with the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The seven principles are:

The Accountability principle is the one concerned with the “effect,” rather than the “cause” and calls upon the industry to establish and implement programs to monitor its online behavioral advertising activities and take steps to ensure compliance with the principles within a self-regulatory framework. In the context of the self-regulatory principles, Accountability means – monitoring, transparency, reporting and compliance.

  • Monitoring: Both random and systematic, depending on the circumstances;
  • Transparency: Widely available, easy to use communication tools and channels so that the public, competitors and government agencies can file complaints when the Principles are violated;
  • Reporting: Violators will be publicly reported, including the reason for a finding of violation, a description of the violation, and the actions taken in response to, and to correct, the non-compliance; and
  • Compliance: The establishment of mechanisms and procedures to bring any publicly-reported entity into compliance with the principles, or, if necessary, to refer the violation to the appropriate government agency.

The Accountability principle also notes the importance of coordination and consistency among programs to promote efficiencies in implementation, so as to avoid multiple enforcement actions against the same entity for the same violation.

While the blueprint for the specifics surrounding the proposed monitoring, transparency, reporting and compliance initiatives under this principle are yet to be drawn, the Direct Marketing Association (“DMA”) and National Advertising Review Council of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (“CBBB”), have agreed to cooperate and collaborate, with the stated goal of having something in place by early 2010. Both the DMA and the CBBB were called upon to provide leadership in this area because of their widely respected existing self-regulatory accountability programs. The DMA also has agreed to integrate the principles into its longstanding DMA Self-Regulatory and Compliance Tools.

If you would like to read the entire “Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising” report now, in its entirety, just follow the link, but stay tuned for next week, when we will post a short consolidated summary of all seven principles and you can always read the entire “Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising” report here. So now, as always, if you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Adam Snukal or me, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.